Opinion: Christmas trees lopped, turkeys dismembered

“Christmas comes but once a year” but it seems to start earlier and earlier. I have been dodging the Christmas chocolate in the supermarket since October. However, now that December is in full swing, the Chrimbo gloves are off!

See also: Opinion: Getting my husband back thanks to milking robots

I was super organised for once and completed most of the Christmas shopping online weeks ago, thus avoiding the horror of battling the festive crowds with two small children in tow.

Will is always the most difficult one to buy for, when asked what he wants he tends to reply with “I don’t mind” or “a new tractor”, and he is equally frustrating when it comes to buying my present.

I usually have to give very detailed options along with where they can be purchased, this year I have had to go one further and order my own gift, but I am very excited about it. Despite knowing exactly what I have got, I’m not allowed to open the box to sneak a peek until Christmas Day!

I have stashed the kids’ presents around the house and I will be spending several evenings between now and Christmas Day trying to get the wrapping done late in the evening.

Edward is just getting to the age where Christmas is becoming a big deal; he has grasped the concept of Father Christmas and is very disappointed in the mornings because he hasn’t visited yet.

Will is in charge of the ‘manly’ Christmas jobs, most notably, tree purchasing. Every year he buys a ridiculously large specimen, which needs a couple of feet lopping off before it can be wedged in the corner of the sitting room.

This year’s tree looks like it should be gracing a village green rather than our lounge. Of course it has been impossible to explain to Edward and the dog why the ornaments need to stay on the tree – every night I am spending about 15 minutes seeking out all the pilfered baubles.

Another area where Will believes that bigger is better is the turkey. Last year he was tickled to have paid top price at the Christmas turkey market and brought home a 26lb beast that needed partial dismembering to cram it in the oven and meant that I had to get up at 3.30am on Christmas morning to cook it.

This year I have told him that the turkey has to weigh less than the baby, I just hope he realizes that I’m referring to Lydia, not Edward.

We are well settled into the winter routine on the farm now, all except the dry cows (who are out on kale) are inside and the feeding and bedding is only taking a couple of hours a day.

This means that we have been able to catch up on fencing and hedging jobs that have been neglected. Slowly I am able to retrieve hurdles and gates that have been blocking holes in the hedges since spring.

All the suckled calves are doing really well this year, we were thrilled to receive our silage analysis in the autumn, it was really good stuff and the animals’ performance is definitely supporting that now they are on their full winter rations.

Now that Will is doing less milking, he is around in the evenings to spend time with the kids and I have relished being able to get him to help with all those little jobs around the house that he has been too busy or too tired to do for the past five years.

It is as our children begin to grow up that we are beginning to realise the importance of a ‘work-life balance’. Farmers are well known for working all hours, all days and the kids just have to fit in around all the farm jobs.

But especially at Christmas it is so nice to slow down a little and take stock of what really matters. For us that means spending time doing all the stereotypical Christmas activities like decorating the house, eating too many mince pies and sausage rolls and going on walks for the sake of it instead of to check stock or move fences.

The highlight of my Christmas is definitely cooking Christmas dinner; the cows still need to be looked after so we prefer to stay home and have people come to us.

I love the chaos of cooking the turkey and all the trimmings. I know for many people the thought of cooking on Christmas day seems like a chore, but so long as I have a glass of bucks fizz in my hand I will happily cook all day, so long as everyone pitches in to do the dishes.

I love Boxing Day almost as much as Christmas Day. This year I will be going hunting on Panda – her first time!

The meet is in Tavistock town square and there is always a fantastic atmosphere as hundreds of people turn out to see us off.

Hopefully the weather will co-operate, one year my friends and I cried off after an hour because the rain had filled our boots and we got soaked through. No amount of whisky was going to keep us warm.

Whatever your Christmas entails, I hope you have a wonderful one, filled with friends, family and laughter. We will be raising a glass to all the British farmers who are working so hard this month to get the nation’s Christmas dinners to the table.


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